In the past three months, I've had the privilege of watching the news in 22 different countries. Right now, for example, I just got back to my hotel room in Vienna and turned on BBC World. In every country, from Egypt to the U.A.E. to Malaysia to Cambodia to Russia, I've been able to flip on the TV and watch either BBC or CNN. I've noticed that news coverage worldwide is distinctly different than news coverage in the States, but I've been struggling to pin down what exactly that difference is. I've talked it over with other students and we can't seem to express the discrepancy in any other way except to say that news coverage in the U.S. seems limited and oftentimes biased. To many of us it seems that in other parts of the world, news stations cover stories on a more global scale, a scale that is rarely seen back home.
I think that Americans in general have a lack of knowledge about other parts of the world, partly because we are geographically cut off, but also because our media cuts us off by not covering global news adequately. Just in the past hour on BBC, I have seen stories on England, South Africa, Egypt, India, and Iran. When was the last time you saw a story about people in South Africa or India on FOX News? I just don't think the same amount of diversity exists on our news channels back home.
The most striking difference is the coverage of the war in Iraq. First, I am surprised how much it is in the news. Practically every time I watch the news, there is a story about Iraq. I guess I thought we heard about it so much at home because we are directly involved in the war. It seems to me that the global attitude is anti-war in Iraq, but not necessarily anti-American. Everyone seems to know it is a tough situation, but no one knows what to do about it. What stands out as the difference as far as the news coverage is concerned is that people around the world seem to be trying to understand the plight of the Iraqi people much more than we are. Have you ever seen a story on the news in the States about the lives of the Iraqi people? I haven't in the States (I could be watching at the wrong times or just missing something), but I have in most of the places we've traveled. I think a shift in the amount of global coverage by American news channels could have a positive impact on how Americans are viewed worldwide.